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10 February 2009 @ 11:34 am
Numb3rs Fic: Complicated 5  
Written for numb3rs100 Challenges #130 – Classified, #133 – Evidence, #174 – Blood, #170 – Los Angeles, #129 – Covert
Crossposted to numb3rs_fic

Title: Complicated 5
Series/Universe: Complicated
Pairing/Characters: Don, Billy, Ian, OCs
Rating: PG13
Word Count: 1500
Spoilers: Season 1
Summary: The investigation takes a turn that's incredibly difficult for Don
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

130. Classified

Don looked around the empty safehouse.

"Okay, this? Is a crime scene. We need it processed."

"This is a classified location! You can't process an NSA safehouse as a crime scene!" Bryan protested.

Don shot him a glare. "Watch me." As he flipped his phone open, Billy got his attention.

"I'm going to check the perimeter."

As Don nodded Billy headed out the door, Bryan following.


"Colby, listen I need you to arrange to have Forensics process a house ASAP. It's an NSA safehouse, but don't let anyone tell you it can't be processed. Charlie's missing and this is his last known location."

"Don!" Billy stuck his head in the doorway. "Come see this!"

"Hold on!" Don ran out to the back of the house with Billy to find Bryan standing over the tangles of a two-story escape ladder on the ground.

"Someone must have used it to get out of the house fast," Bryan mused.

"Yeah, but they couldn't have tossed it out the window afterwards," Don said, crouching down in the grass beside it. "That had to be whoever they were running from." He put the phone to his ear. "Colby? The address here is Twelve Montclair Court, Hartford Hills, the new Clearview Ridge housing development."

"I'm on it," Colby replied, clearly understanding the need for speed and brevity.

"I've got tracks!" Billy's shout came from where the lawn ended and the dirt field of the surrounding development area began. "Two runners and one of them is Charlie's size." He looked around more as Don and Bryan rushed over, careful to stay on the grass. "And here's the people looking for them..."

Don's mouth was a grim line when he spoke into the phone.

"Colby, wherever Edgerton is, get him on a plane. We need him. Now."

133. Evidence

Don and Billy were still following Charlie's tracks when Colby called back.


"I don't know if it's related, but there was a report of a truck stolen early this morning at Clearview Ridge."

"Did you put an APB out on it?"

"Already done. Are you thinking Charlie might have taken it?"

"No. If he was on his own, he'd have found a way to call me by now. He's either with someone from the NSA..." Don's voice trailed off. Charlie was either with someone in the NSA who was trying to protect him or with the people he was supposed to be protected from.

"The foreman's name is Carl Wilber," Colby said. "In case you want to question him about the construction company's stolen truck."

"Thanks, Col." The trail led to one of the still unfinished houses and Don flashed his badge at one of the workers. "Carl Wilber around?"

"He's on the front porch I think," the man answered.

Don and Billy walked around to find a sturdily built gray-haired man in a hardhat signing a clipboard near the front door.

"Carl Wilbur?"

The man squinted at their badges. "Dang, I never thought the FBI would investigate a stolen truck."

"We're actually here about the potential kidnapping of a government consultant," Don told him, putting his badge away. "Other than the stolen car, was there any evidence of activity going on here last night or this morning?"

Carl screwed up his face. "I don't know if this qualifies..." He cocked his head towards the house and Don and Billy followed him inside. "I chalked it up to vandalism, but it's just weird enough that I figure I should say something, you know?"

"What is it?" Billy asked.

Carl turned at the doorway to one of the rooms.


174. Blood

Don wove his way through the fiberglass rolls to where Carl pointed out the blood smears on the wall.

"I thought it might be like a biblical reference or something," the foreman said. "But I don't really know the good book chapter and verse, you know?"

Don crouched down to take a closer look at the numbers 7-1-5 painted on the wall in blood.

"We'll test the blood, but it's Charlie, I know it."

"It has to be," Billy said, agreeing. "What better breadcrumb to leave you than his DNA and your birthday?"

Don speed dialed the office. "Colby, I need a second address processed."

"Six Moulton Court," Carl offered.

"Six Moulton Court," Don repeated into the phone. "We'll need a DNA check, but tell the lab just to compare it to Charlie's. It should be a match; I just want confirmation." Don snapped his phone closed. "I'm sorry, Carl, but this house is now a crime scene. I need all of your people out of the house and away from the surrounding grounds."

Carl nodded solemnly. "I'll take care of it right away."

As he hurried upstairs to gather up his workmen, Billy drew Don aside.

"If that's Charlie's blood - and you know it is - it means he got out of the house alive. I'd lay odds that at least one agent is with him, keeping him safe. They're probably out there alone right now and if that agent thinks they can't trust their own alphabet group?"

Don scrubbed his face with his hands. "Then they're going to keep running."

"Don," Billy said gently. "It doesn't take a genius to figure out you're looking for your brother."

"So the question isn't just 'Where is Charlie?'" Don mused. "It's 'Who's watching me hoping I'll lead them to him?'"

170. Los Angeles

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

Billy raised his eyebrows at Don and they shared a look of understanding.

"I think so." Don moved in to whisper in Billy's ear. "The Brookline case. Have Kim run it. Tell her it's like the Denali case only reversed."

Billy stiffened slightly at Kim's name, but nodded his acceptance.

"I'll borrow someone's phone here to make the call, just in case."

As Billy walked off, Don crouched down, gazing at his brother's blood on the wall in front of him.

"Where are you, Charlie?" he mused to himself. "Talk to me..."

"Agent Eppes?" Bryan entered the room and Don quickly stood. "Oh good. I just got off the phone with LAPD. They're sending a slew of cadets over to search all the empty houses in this development. I arranged with the construction company to pull everyone off site until we're done searching plus they're faxing an employee phone list to my office. I'm having the staff do a phone canvas in case any of them saw something and didn't realize its significance."

"Thank you," Don said, honestly appreciative. "Listen, I'm not trying to bust your ass..."

Bryan held up a hand to halt him. "He's your brother. I'd do the same. Just know we want him back safe and sound too."

Billy appeared behind Bryan and offered Don a subtle nod out of Bryan's sight. By tacit agreement they kept quiet in front of the NSA agent.

Don's phone rang and he snapped it open briskly.


"Eppes, it's Edgerton."

"Ian! I don't know where you are, but..."

"I'm in a helicopter flying over Downtown Los Angeles right now. You should be hearing rotors in just a few minutes," Ian said. "All I need to know is where we can land the chopper."

129. Covert

Ian practically leaped from the helicopter, waving away the pilot who took off immediately.

"What have we got?"

Don deferred to Billy since he'd been the one to examine the tracks closely.

"Trail starts at the safehouse: ladder dropped out of a second story window. It picks up in the dirt past the lawn." He pointed as they headed towards the safehouse. "Two tracks: one small enough to be Charlie's, the other looks like a woman in boots. My guess is an agent protecting him. Those tracks were easy. What we're trying to figure out is a mess of tracks made by the people hunting Charlie down."

"I need to know anything you can tell me," Don interjected, intensity clear in his tone. "How many, gender, height and weight..."

"How many extraneous footprints do I have to deal with?" Ian asked.

"Near the safehouse? Just a few of mine and I was careful." As they approached the area where the tracks began, Billy put out a hand to stop them and then lifted his shoe to show Ian his tread. "That's mine." Ian examined it for a moment then nodded. "Over by the unfinished houses I can't tell you how many employees were tromping all over. Probably lots, but we cleared them out pretty quickly."

Don put a hand on Ian's arm to hold him back for a moment, whispering in his ear.

"We think an NSA mole is after Charlie and is probably watching me. Don't talk to anyone except for Billy and Kim about what you find. Not even me."

Ian clapped a hand on Don's shoulder, a silent show of support.

Don whispered to Billy next, strain clear in his voice.

"This is your case now. I'm the decoy. You're Charlie's only hope. Find him for me."

Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on February 10th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
Okay, back to Don's POV again, how that we're a bit more caught up.

A critical turn of events in this one. Don is forced to essentially cede control of the search for Charlie to others he trusts even though every fiber of his being wants to be the one searching, finding, saving his little brother. He's a smart man and he - and Billy - have realized that the easiest way for the bad guys to find Charlie now that he's on the run is to spy on the one person Charlie most wants to contact to save him.

Unfortunately for them, Don's too smart to fall for that.

Plus, hello genius? Desperate as Charlie is, when he gets his head on straight he'll realize the same thing. For now Miranda's the levelheaded one between them. But Charlie will have his day in the sun soon enough...

A part of me wonders if I should have published these in reverse - made 4 5 and made 5 4, letting people see the blood before they read the circumstances under which Charlie put it on the wall. A bit late for that kind of musing, but seeing as how we're still not synced, there's more time slip to play with past this installment.

As far as numerical fun goes this time around, I'm amused that even though I have 200 prompts to choose from for this series I wind up with groupings of prompts right on top of each other: 129, 130, 133 and 170, 174 when I just used 171 last installment. In true random number selections groupings do occur, but this is far from random. Well, random as my brain is /grins/ this process probably has some logic or rationale behind it since I didn't pick prompts out of a hat. Hehehe

Very special thanks to beta melissima for her assistance with this fic.


Emma DeMarais
ladygray99ladygray99 on February 10th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
And now you got Ian on the scene. That's nice. :-) Poor Don. Not a stress free day for him.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on February 10th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
You know Ian. When an Eppes is in trouble? He says "Pasadena. 8 minutes by chopper." /grins/

Well when you have a mess of tracks to figure out? Who's better?

It's just a bit of a conceit that he was already in the area, but hey, we had that in High Exposure so it's not a conceit they haven't used in canon. Hehehe

And yeah, Don? Possibly the toughest thing for him is to NOT be the lead in the case to save his brother. /pets/
Devo79devo79 on February 10th, 2009 08:03 pm (UTC)
I really like this.

Very intense =)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on February 10th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I was definitely going for tense and intense. :-)
t_vo0810t_vo0810 on February 10th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
Yea! Edgerton too?! Color me a happy girl. Keeps getting better and better. I like the way the suspense is so layered. Obviously, Don's search and Charlie's escape are very suspenseful, but then you have the subplot of tension and apprehension with Don in the middle of Billy and Kim working together for Don. Love it!
devon99 on February 11th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)

How fabulous is it that Ian arrives in a helicopter? Super-fabulous, thats how much!!

Im glad he's on the case now. If anyone can track down Charlie, it's him.

And how hard must it have been for Don to virtually hand over his brother's life to Ian and Billy.

*more please*
rubynye on February 12th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, that last line! Oh, Don! So much faith, so much self-control, so much knowledge and strength all in that last line to this suspenseful installment.

This is a gripping tale indeed.
Valerie Vancollievaleriev84 on February 14th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, I like how Don is thinking straight enough to put Billy in charge of the case! Poor Donny, but it really shows how much he trusts Billy and I like that.

And Ian!
You've got my three favorite characters all together in one fic! I can deal with the Charlie solo parts just for that!
Leahprairie_city on January 27th, 2010 06:50 am (UTC)
I think this is one of my favorite new series! I love the intense emotions. I can almost feel the icy fear that Charlie and Don both must be going through, especially as someone like me who a) is an older sibling, and b) has had to hide alone in the dark. (In my case, it was some kind of storm I was hiding from, not an intruder, otherwise I don't think I would be enjoying it. And in my defense, I was told it was a tornado.)

I'm looking forward to the next installment. :)

(Also, this was typed on vicodin. In case some of it doesn't make sense.)